“Vitamin D and Fish Oil of Little Benefit in Heart Disease, Cancer”Dec 09, 2018
More research is showing no significant benefit from vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer and little benefit from omega-3 supplements. The Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) is one of the largest randomized, placebo-controlled trials to examine these associations. The study comprised almost 26,000 participants. The two primary outcome measures were invasive cancer of any type and major CVD events, which was a composite of stroke, myocardial infarction (MI), and CVD-related death. Neither the participants who received vitamin D3 nor those who received 1 g of marine n-3 fatty acids (omega-3) per day showed a significantly lower incidence of either outcome over 5 years of follow-up. However, there was a 28% reduction in risk for myocardial infarction (MI) alone in the full group receiving omega-3 and a 77% reduction in MI risk among black participants in the omega-3 group. This may point to a very promising approach to reducing coronary risk among African Americans. But overall the results were not impressive with any of the primary findings and only showed marginal benefits in “sub-analyses or in secondary endpoints,” which are not reliable scientific evidence of benefit. Importantly, no significant adverse events occurred with either agent, including no increased risk for hypercalcemia with vitamin D and no increased risk for bleeding with omega-3. Jane Armitage, MD, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, noted that although this was a well-conducted and well-powered study with an ethnically diverse population and good follow-up, “it was robustly negative” overall.
“Should the Doctor Shake a Patient’s Hand?”Dec 02, 2018
Dirty hands can transmit many types of infection. If you think shaking hands is a friendly gesture, thing again. It is a well-known health hazard. Dirty hands can transmit infections such as noroviruses and salmonella that cause diarrhea and vomiting, rhinoviruses that can give you a cold, as well as the viruses that cause flu and chickenpox. Diseases that spread rapidly and can be fatal, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, can also lurk on hands. The bugs can be transferred to surfaces and door handles for other people to share. So, should we keep our hands to ourselves? These days, hospitals and offices are oozing with indestructible bacteria and patients are trigger-happy with lawsuits over perceived offenses. When you shake hands with someone, you’re greeting dozens, if not hundreds, of species of bacteria. In one study, researchers found that the typical person’s hand has more than 150 distinct species of bacteria living on it. And the bacteria are diverse. The microbes on the other person’s hand are vastly different from the ones on your hand. Specifically, researchers found more than 4,700 different bacteria species among 102 human hands, with just 5 species shared among all participants—a commonality of only 13%. Even your right hand has only 17% of the same bacteria as your left hand, the researchers found. Surprisingly, the researchers also showed that the overall diversity of bacteria on individual hands was not significantly affected by regular handwashing. Either the bacterial colonies rapidly re-establish after hand washing or washing does not remove most bacteria found on the skin surface. Still, that’s no excuse to skip washing your hands.
“Five Things Harboring Germs in Hospitals”Nov 25, 2018
Surprisingly, many hospital surfaces are contaminated with germs and should not be touched. It turns out that there’s a body of research on the infectious nature of fomites (infection-harboring materials) in health-care settings. You may never look at a clipboard, stethoscope, faucet, clothing item or tie in the same way again. Canadian researchers discovered that patient privacy curtains found in hospital rooms become increasingly contaminated as days go by, and by day 14, nearly 90% harbored methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Five everyday hospital contaminated areas are as follows: 1) Patient privacy curtains; 2) Stethoscopes; 3) Tabletops; 4) Hospital linens; and 5) Neckties.
“Aspirin of Little Benefit for Heart Disease, Stroke”Nov 18, 2018
As of 2016, recommendations were for older Americans with a high risk of heart disease, to take low–dose aspirin every day to reduce their risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and cancer death, extend their lives and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients over the course of 20 years. By 2017, experts recommended that you should use daily aspirin therapy only after first talking to your health care professional, who can weigh the benefits and risks. However, after carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA had concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called “primary prevention.” In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present. Caution is needed with blood thinners. When you have a heart attack, it’s because one of the coronary arteries (which provide blood to the heart), has developed a clot that obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Aspirin works by interfering with your blood’s clotting action. Care is needed when using aspirin with other blood thinners, such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixiban (Eliquis). As of 2018, three new large studies have been completed as follows: the ASCEND study, the ARRIVE study and the ASPREE study. In the ASCEND study, aspirin use was linked to a 12% drop in the rate of serious vascular events, but a 29% increase in the rate of major bleeding events.
“Certain Diets Can Reduce The Cancer Risk”Nov 11, 2018
Tragically, the overall incidence of cancer continues to rise. More than half of all people born in 1960 will develop cancer at some point in their lives. This new estimate replaces the previous figure, which predicted that more than one in three people would develop cancer. Still, many Americans remain unaware of the key risk factors for cancer, even though these risk factors can be reduced by making lifestyle changes. This is likely due to the fact that more people are surviving into old age, where cancer is more common. The old adage is that if you live long enough, you will get cancer. A 2015 study, in the British Journal of Cancer, reported that the lifetime risk of developing cancer is 53.5% for men and 47.5% for women. Compared with people born in 1930, that is an increase of 15% for men and 11% for women. So, we need to be aware that there are believed to be many ways to help prevent cancer. Smoking, inactivity, consumption of alcohol, diets high in red meat, diets low in vegetables and fruits, and consumption of processed meats are thought to increase one’s chances of developing cancer. Being physically active, staying a healthy weight, and eating a plant-based diet has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer cases each year. A new study claims that a specific cancer-prevention diet that emphasizes more vegetables and physical activity, and less red meat and alcohol, reduced overall cancer risk as well as the risk for several types of cancer.
“STD Rates Are Soaring IN USA”Oct 28, 2018
After decades of declining STDs, in recent years we’ve been sliding backwards in the USA. “The United States continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world,” said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). Harvey said STDs lead to $16 billion in preventable healthcare costs each year. Preliminary data indicate that rates of three sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — Chlamydia infection, gonorrhea, and syphilis — hit an all-time high in 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC said that the United States is on track to have 1.7 million cases of Chlamydia infection (up from 1.59 million in 2016), 555,608 cases of gonorrhea, and 30,644 cases of primary and secondary syphilis in 2017. Overall, that’s 200,000 more cases of the three reportable STDs than in 2016, and it’s the fourth year in a row that the United States has had a significant increase in those conditions. The early data indicate that from 2013 to 2017, the number of gonorrhea cases increased by 67% and syphilis cases nearly doubled. A significant number of the syphilis cases — 17,736 — were in men who have sex with men. The figures are alarming.
“Eight Glasses of Daily Water is Mythology”Oct 21, 2018
Everywhere, people are carrying bottles of water and taking frequent sips from them. Despite the seemingly admonition to “drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day” (with a reminder that beverages containing caffeine and alcohol do not count), rigorous proof for this is missing. You don’t have to consume all the water you need through drinks. Americans get nearly 20% of their fluid intake from food. A 2002 study failed to find any scientific studies to support the eight, eight-ounce glasses (8 x 8) on a daily basis. Surveys of food and fluid intake on thousands of adults of both genders strongly suggest that such large amounts are not needed because the surveyed persons were not overtly ill. This conclusion is supported by published studies showing that caffeinated drinks (and, to a lesser extent, mild alcoholic beverages like beer in moderation) may be counted toward the daily total. However, large intakes of fluid, equal to and greater than 8 × 8, are advisable for the treatment or prevention of some diseases and certainly are called for under special circumstances, such as vigorous work and exercise, especially in hot climates.
“Alzheimer’s Disease Possibly Linked to a Virus”Oct 14, 2018
Close to six million people suffer with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and a new case is diagnosed every 70 seconds. Despite years of research, the underlying cause of AD is up for debate and unknown. Dr Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, talks about the contagion theory of Alzheimer’s disease. Could Alzheimer disease be caused by an infection? Some very interesting research calls into question the precise etiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Physicians and scientists have been taught for decades that amyloid causes Alzheimer’s disease. Although that may be true, different people may take different roads to developing the disease. Some people may be on the metabolic road; for example, having diabetes increases the Alzheimer’s disease risk two-fold. What about hormones and the menopause transition? Women are in the fast lane for acquiring AD.
“Chocolate Studies are Clouded in Confusion”Oct 07, 2018
A late August 2018 headline proclaimed the good news: “Three bars of chocolate a month can reduce chances of heart failure.” Also, some research has shown that small amounts of chocolate (especially dark chocolate) may be good for your heart, your brain, and even your eyes. Another recent meta-analysis found that eating chocolate lowered the relative risk of heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease. The study indicated that 45 g/week (almost exactly the size of a regular Hershey bar) was the most effective amount of chocolate to eat for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But wait, because too much chocolate cancels out any healthy effects. The researchers’ main finding was that people who eat a lot of chocolate (like on a daily basis) had a 17% greater risk of heart failure than people who ate no chocolate. Still, another study found that moderate chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of heart failure” by 23%. They categorized “moderate chocolate consumption” as one to three (not simply three) servings a month. The compounds in chocolate that are believed to work wonders are flavanols, and dark chocolate contains up to two to three times more flavanols than milk chocolate. Flavanols are a type of polyphenol, a group of natural compounds found in plants, that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming flavanols appears to increase vasodilation, which lowers blood pressure and reduces cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
“Will An Apple A Day Keep The Doctor Away ?”Sep 30, 2018
For decades, we have heard the old adage that “an apple a day will keep the doctor away.” But, is there any scientific proof for this? Detox diets purport to work through “clean eating.” That typically means eating a strict diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and raw nuts and seeds, plus lots of water. But, there’s no evidence detox and cleanse diets actually rid the body of toxins, or that they’re necessary. The Mediterranean diet, which is heavy in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and healthy unsaturated fats (olive oil), and low in processed foods, red meat, and saturated and trans fats, has confirmed health benefits by many studies. In 2018, Dr. John Murphy published an article on the very subject of eating an apple a day to avoid the doctor and here is what he found out. Further, Dr. Matthew A. Davis wrote, “To our knowledge, the association between daily apple consumption and use of health-care services has never been rigorously examined. Although some may jest, considering the relatively low cost of apples (currently $1.13 per pound of Red Delicious apples), a prescription for apple consumption could potentially reduce national health-care spending if the aphorism holds true.” Dr. Davis and colleagues analyzed data from 8,399 eligible adults who completed a dietary recall questionnaire as part of the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Of these individuals, 753 (9%) self-identified as daily apple eaters (those who consumed at least 1 small apple or 149 g of raw apple per day) and 7,646 (91%) reported they did not eat an apple a day.